And yes, I was one of the ones whose immediate reaction was to do just that, from atop a rather tall equine.
And then a couple of commenters went even further, reminding us that a magic "adult" switch doesn't flip on when a student turns 18, or registers for their first class. And it hit me that I've become a bit too cynical. So I'm reprinting my comment here, since it's something that I'm now going to do some thinking about:
I’m really enjoying reading these comments, especially Emily’s, and now Leslie’s, both of which are reminding me that adulthood isn’t an instantaneous process, and there’s a big difference between a student (especially a first- or second-year student) who contacts parents frequently for advice or searching for validation, and a student or parent who expects that the parent will always run interference, absolving said student of any responsibility for his/her actions, and preventing hir from growing up.
Here’s where I’ll take my stand, at least for the moment: from the outside (that is, from a professor’s point of view), it’s very difficult to tell the difference between the two, since we only see part of the picture. And since a few bad encounters (“my dad’s a lawyer!”) tend to make us a bit cynical, we assume the worst when confronted with partial evidence.
I’m therefore going to try to do a reversal on my own reactions, and try to assume that a student is the former type, unless they’re proven to be the latter. This will be a trial run.
I really do think I've become too cynical in my approach to teaching, assuming that, without a whole bag of carrots and sticks, my students will not read, or care, or do anything but take shortcuts. But I never wanted to be that professor, and I still don't. I don't need to turn into a Pollyanna to admit that it's time for a change in my own approach.
I'll let you know how it goes.
UPDATE: Emily posts in the comments about a post that Tenured Radical wrote a while back about developing a less cynical approach, and it's definitely worth a read, so I'm linking to it here.